How Does a Lack of Sleep Affect Your Mood?

We receive free products to review and participate in affiliate programs. See our disclosure page for more information.

Sleep deprivation undoubtedly affects one’s mood. When people haven’t gotten enough sleep, they may well find themselves feeling grumpy, irritable, sluggish, and generally ill-tempered. Lack of sleep has also been linked to anxiety and even depression.

This relationship can also work in reverse. “There’s a big relationship between psychiatric and psychological problems and sleep. So people who are depressed or have anxiety often have trouble with sleep as part of those disorders,” Dr. Lawrence Epstein, Medical Director of Sleep Health Centers and an instructor at Harvard Medical School, said in an interview with the Harvard Sleep website.

Just how does sleep deprivation contribute to poor mood? Let’s take a look at the research.

SFIO CRACHO/Shutterstock

Sleep Deprivation And Poor Mood

According to one study, sleep deprivation may actually affect how our brains regulate emotion. Researchers asked 18 participants to stay up all night, and they were scanned to monitor their brain activity. The participants took a test after the sleepless night and the same test after a night of sleep. The test was designed to elicit emotional responses.

“It turns out we lose our neutrality [when we are sleep deprived],” researcher Talma Hendler told ScienceAlert. “The ability of the brain to tell what’s important is compromised. It’s as if suddenly everything is important.” As a result, sleep deprived people may find themselves overreacting to small issues, quickly becoming sad or frustrated, or losing their temper more often.

If you are consistently getting too little sleep, and your mood is negatively affected, you should see if there’s any way to shift your schedule so you can sleep more.

If you struggle to fall asleep in the first place, try practicing great sleep hygiene by going to bed at the same time every night and avoiding screens and caffeine before bed. Those struggling with long-term insomnia should chat with their doctor about some treatment options. And when you find yourself grumpy because of a lack of sleep, try your best not to overreact when unfortunate things happen.

[Editor’s Note: The content provided on this site is for general informational purposes only. Any information provided is not a substitute for professional medical advice. We encourage you to consult with the appropriate health expert if you have concerns.]

Featured image: SFIO CRACHO/Shutterstock

Joe Auer

Joe Auer

Joe Auer is the editor of Mattress Clarity. He mainly focuses on mattress reviews and oversees the content across the site. He likes things simple and takes a straightforward, objective approach to his reviews. Joe has personally tested nearly 250 mattresses and always recommends people do their research before buying a new bed. He has been testing mattresses for over 5 years now, so he knows a thing or two when it comes to mattress selection. He has been cited as an authority in the industry by a number of large publications. When he isn't testing sleep products, he enjoys working out, reading both fiction and non-fiction, and playing classical piano. He enjoys traveling as well, and not just to test out hotel mattresses! Joe has an undergraduate degree from Wake Forest University and an MBA from Columbia University.